In anticipation of the 100-year anniversary of the trial and execution of the labor icon Joe Hill in Utah, the Utah State Archives has posted online over four thousand images of records concerning the international controversy and publicity generated at that time (http://archives.utah.gov/digital/joe-hill.html).
Born in 1879 in Gavle, Sweden, Joseph Hillstrom (also known as Joe Hill) immigrated to the United States and worked in a variety of jobs including laborer, miner, lumberman, and longshoreman. He joined the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) where he became a renowned singer and songwriter of the early 20th century labor movement.
In 1913 Joe Hill came to Utah to work in the mines in Park City. On January 10th, 1914 a murder was committed in Salt Lake City that resulted in the deaths of grocery store owner John Morrison and his son. The same night, Joe Hill appeared at the office of a doctor with a gunshot wound to the chest. Suspicion fell on Hill based on the gunshot wound and circumstantial evidence brought to trial.
Hill was convicted of the murders and his execution was scheduled for late 1915. The trial engendered international debate over Hill’s conviction and whether his activity as a labor organizer had made him a target of political and business interests. But while the execution was delayed, the conviction was not overturned, and Hill was executed by firing squad at the Utah State Prison in Sugar House on November 19, 1915.
The records now online include case records, petitions, and correspondence from the office of Governor William Spry, the prisoner pardon application case file for Joe Hill, and a copy of his death certificate in full color.